Thursday, September 8, 2011
Remaining in God’s Favor Despite Changes
ARE you facing changes in your life? Are you finding it hard to accept those changes? Most of us have been or will be in that situation. Some real-life examples from the past can help us to identify qualities that will be useful.
For example, consider David and the many changes he had to deal with. He was a mere shepherd boy when Samuel anointed him as future king. While still young, he volunteered to fight the Philistine giant Goliath. (1 Sam. 17:26-32, 42) Young David was invited to live at the royal court of King Saul and was appointed as head of the army. David could not even have imagined all these changes in his life; nor could he have anticipated what would happen next.
David’s relationship with Saul became extremely strained. (1 Sam. 18:8, 9; 19:9, 10) To save his own life, David had to live as a fugitive for several years. Even when he was reigning as king over Israel, his circumstances changed drastically, especially after he committed adultery and, in an effort to cover up that sin, murder. As a result of his own sins, he had calamities within his family. Among other things, David experienced the rebellion of his son Absalom. (2 Sam. 12:10-12; 15:1-14) Still, after David repented of his sins of adultery and murder, Jehovah forgave him and David was restored to God’s favor.
Your circumstances may also change. Health problems, economic hardships, or family difficulties—even our own actions—produce changes in our lives. What qualities can help us be better prepared to cope with such challenges?
Humility Helps Us
Humility involves having a submissive attitude. Real humility enables us to see ourselves as we really are and others as they are. By not playing down others’ qualities and successes, we will better appreciate who they are and what they do. Similarly, humility may enable us to understand why something has happened to us and how to deal with it.
Jonathan, Saul’s son, is a good example. His circumstances were changed by events beyond his control. When Samuel told Saul that Jehovah would take the kingdom away, he did not say that Jonathan would take over as king. (1 Sam. 15:28; 16:1, 12, 13) God’s choice of David as the next king of Israel excluded Jonathan. In a sense, Saul’s disobedience had a negative effect on Jonathan. Even though he bore no responsibility, Jonathan would not succeed his father. (1 Sam. 20:30, 31) How did Jonathan react to this situation? Did he harbor a grudge because of the lost opportunity, becoming jealous of David? No. Despite being much older and more experienced, Jonathan loyally upheld David. (1 Sam. 23:16-18) Humility helped him understand who had the divine blessing, and he did ‘not think more of himself than was necessary to think.’ (Rom. 12:3) Jonathan understood what Jehovah expected of him and accepted His decision in the matter.
Real humility enables us to see ourselves as we really are
Of course, many changes produce some kind of difficulty. At a certain point, Jonathan had dealings with two men who were close to him. One was David, the future king, his friend who had been designated by Jehovah. The other was Saul, his father, who had been rejected by Jehovah yet was still ruling as king. This situation must have caused Jonathan emotional stress while he tried to keep Jehovah’s favor. The changes that we have to face may cause us some worry and apprehension. But if we try to understand Jehovah’s viewpoint, we will be able to continue serving him loyally while coping with the changes.
The Importance of Modesty
Modesty involves being aware of one’s limitations. Modesty and humility should not be confused. A humble person may not be fully conscious of his limitations.
David was modest. Although Jehovah had chosen him to be king, for years David was unable to assume the throne. We do not read that David received any explanation from Jehovah as to the reason for this apparent delay. Yet, this situation, while seemingly frustrating, did not disturb him. He was aware of his limitations, and he understood that Jehovah, who was allowing that situation, had matters under control. Thus, even in order to save his own life, David would not kill Saul, and he stopped his companion Abishai from doing so.—1 Sam. 26:6-9.
Sometimes a situation may develop within our local congregation that we do not understand or that does not seem, from our point of view, to be handled in the best or most organized way. Will we modestly recognize that Jesus is Head of the congregation and that he works through the body of elders appointed to take the lead? Will we display modesty, knowing that to keep Jehovah’s favor, we need to wait on him to lead through Jesus Christ? Will we modestly wait even though this is challenging?—Prov. 11:2.
Meekness Helps Us to Be Positive
Meekness is mildness of temper. It enables us to endure injury with patience and without irritation, resentment, vindictiveness. Meekness is a difficult quality to cultivate. Interestingly, in one Bible text, the “meek ones of the earth” are invited to “seek meekness.” (Zeph. 2:3) Meekness is related to humility and modesty, but it also embraces other qualities, such as goodness and mildness. A meek person can grow spiritually as he shows himself to be teachable and lets himself be molded.
How can meekness help us deal with new phases of our life? You have likely observed that many tend to view changes in a negative light. In actual fact, they can be opportunities for us to be further trained by Jehovah. Moses’ life illustrates that.
Moses had to face challenges that refined his meekness
At 40 years of age, Moses already possessed excellent qualities. He had proved to be sensitive to the needs of God’s people and displayed a spirit of self-sacrifice. (Heb. 11:24-26) Yet, before being assigned by Jehovah to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses had to face changes that refined his meekness. He had to flee Egypt and live in the land of Midian for 40 years, working as a shepherd, out of the limelight. What was the result? This change made him a better person. (Num. 12:3) He learned to put spiritual interests ahead of personal ones.
Meekness is indispensable to our individual growth
To illustrate Moses’ meekness, let us consider what happened when Jehovah said that He wanted to reject the disobedient nation and have Moses’ descendants become a mighty nation. (Num. 14:11-20) Moses interceded for the nation. His words show that his concerns were God’s reputation and the well-being of his brothers, not his own self-interest. A meek person was needed for Moses’ role as leader of the nation and mediator. Miriam and Aaron murmured against him, yet the Bible record says that Moses was “by far the meekest of all the men.” (Num. 12:1-3, 9-15) It seems that Moses meekly put up with their insults. How would things have turned out if Moses had not been meek?
On another occasion, Jehovah’s spirit settled upon some men, causing them to prophesy. Joshua, Moses’ attendant, felt that these Israelites were acting improperly. Moses, on the other hand, meekly saw things from Jehovah’s viewpoint and was not worried about losing his authority. (Num. 11:26-29) Had Moses not been meek, would he have accepted this change in Jehovah’s arrangement?
Meekness enabled Moses to make good use of the great authority given him and the role God assigned him. Jehovah invited him to go up on Mount Horeb and stand before the people. God spoke to Moses through an angel and appointed him as mediator of the covenant. Moses’ meekness enabled him to accept this great change in authority and yet remain in God’s favor.
What about us? Meekness is indispensable to our individual growth. All who have been entrusted with privileges and authority among God’s people need to be meek. It prevents us from being proud when we are faced with changes and enables us to deal with situations with the right attitude. Our reaction is important. Will we accept the change? Will we view it as an opportunity to improve? It may turn out to be a unique chance to cultivate meekness!
We will constantly find ourselves facing changes in our lives. Sometimes it is not easy to understand why things happen. Personal limitations and emotional tension may make it difficult for us to maintain a spiritual outlook. Still, such qualities as humility, modesty, and meekness will help us to accept the changes and remain in God’s favor.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Questions Often Asked by Interested People
If God is love, why does he permit wickedness?
GOD does permit wickedness, and millions on earth willfully make a practice of it. For instance, they declare wars, drop bombs on children, scorch the earth, and cause famines. Millions smoke and get lung cancer, practice adultery and get sexually transmitted diseases, use alcohol to excess and get cirrhosis of the liver, and so on. Such people do not truly want all wickedness stopped. They only want the penalties for it eliminated. When they reap what they have sown, they cry out, "Why me?" And they blame God, as Proverbs 19:3 says: "A man's own folly wrecks his life, and then he bears a grudge against the LORD." (The New English Bible) And if God stopped their evildoing, they would protest their loss of freedom to do it!
Jehovah's main reason for permitting evil is to answer Satan's challenge. Satan the Devil said that God could not put men on earth who would be true to Him under test. (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10) Jehovah allows Satan to remain to have opportunity to prove his challenge. (Exodus 9:16) Satan continues to bring woes now, to turn men against God, as he tries to prove his challenge. (Revelation 12:12) However, Job kept integrity. So did Jesus. True Christians do now.—Job 27:5; 31:6; Matthew 4:1-11; 1 Peter 1:6, 7.
I would like to believe in an earthly paradise where people live forever, but isn't that too good to be true?
Not according to the Bible. It seems too good to be true only because mankind has known the bad for so many centuries. Jehovah created the earth and told mankind to fill it with righteous men and women who would care for its plant and animal life and preserve its beauty instead of destroying it. (See pages 12 and 17.) Rather than that promised Paradise being too good to be true, the present sorrowful state is too bad to continue. Paradise will replace it.
How can I answer people who scoff and say that the Bible is a myth and is unscientific?
Faith in these promises is not a matter of credulity. "Faith follows the thing heard." By studying God's Word, its wisdom becomes apparent and faith grows.—Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:1.
Biblical archaeology confirms much of the Bible's historical accuracy. True science harmonizes with the Bible. The following facts were in the Bible long before they were discovered by secular scholars: the order of stages through which the earth passed in its development, that the earth is round, that it hangs in space on nothing, and that birds migrate.—Genesis, chapter 1; Isaiah 40:22; Job 26:7; Jeremiah 8:7.
The inspiration of the Bible is shown by fulfilled prophecies. Daniel foretold in advance the rise and the fall of world powers, as well as the time when the Messiah would come and be put to death. (Daniel, chapters 2, 8; 9:24-27) Today, still other prophecies are being fulfilled, identifying these as "the last days." (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew, chapter 24) Such foreknowledge is not within man's power. (Isaiah 41:23) For more confirmation, see the books The Bible—God's Word or Man's? and Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
How can I learn to answer questions on the Bible?
You must study the Bible and meditate on it, at the same time asking for God's spirit to direct you. (Proverbs 15:28; Luke 11:9-13) "If any one of you is lacking in wisdom," the Bible says, "let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him." (James 1:5) Also, there are Bible study aids worth consulting. Usually help from others is needed, as when Philip studied with the Ethiopian. (Acts 8:26-35) Jehovah's Witnesses conduct Bible studies free of charge with interested people in their homes. Feel free to request this service.
Why do many oppose Jehovah's Witnesses and tell me not to study with them?
There was opposition to Jesus' preaching, and he said that his followers also would be opposed. When some were impressed with Jesus' teaching, religious opposers retorted: "You have not been misled also, have you? Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees has put faith in him, has he?" (John 7:46-48; 15:20) Many who advise you not to study with the Witnesses are either uninformed or prejudiced. Study with the Witnesses and see for yourself whether your Bible understanding increases or not.—Matthew 7:17-20.
Why do the Witnesses call on people who have their own religion?
In doing this they follow Jesus' example. He went to the Jews. The Jews had their own religion, but in many ways it had turned away from the Word of God. (Matthew 15:1-9) All nations have religions of some kind, whether so-called Christian or non-Christian. It is vitally important for people to hold beliefs that conform to God's own Word, and the efforts of the Witnesses to assist them in doing this constitute a showing of neighbor love.
Do the Witnesses believe that their religion is the only right one?
Anyone who is serious about his religion should think that it is the right one. Otherwise, why would he or she be involved in it? Christians are admonished: "Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine." (1 Thessalonians 5:21) A person should make sure that his beliefs can be supported by the Scriptures, for there is only one true faith. Ephesians 4:5 confirms this, mentioning "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Jesus did not agree with the modern, relaxed view that there are many roads, many religions, all leading to salvation. Instead, he said: "Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it." Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they have found it. Otherwise, they would look for another religion.—Matthew 7:14.
Do they believe that they are the only ones who will be saved?
No. Millions that have lived in centuries past and who were not Jehovah's Witnesses will come back in a resurrection and have an opportunity for life. Many now living may yet take a stand for truth and righteousness before the "great tribulation," and they will gain salvation. Moreover, Jesus said that we should not be judging one another. We look at the outward appearance; God looks at the heart. He sees accurately and judges mercifully. He has committed judgment into Jesus' hands, not ours.—Matthew 7:1-5; 24:21; 25:31.
What financial contributions are expected of those attending meetings of Jehovah's Witnesses?
Regarding money contributions, the apostle Paul said: "Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) At the Kingdom Halls and convention auditoriums of Jehovah's Witnesses, no collections are ever taken. Boxes are placed so that it is convenient for any who wish to contribute to do so. No one knows what or if others give. Some are able to give more than others; some may not be able to give anything. Jesus showed the right view when he commented on the treasury box at the temple in Jerusalem and those contributing: It is one's capacity to give and the spirit of giving that count, not the amount of money.—Luke 21:1-4.
If I become one of Jehovah's Witnesses, would I be expected to preach as they do?
When one becomes filled with the knowledge of the promised earthly Paradise under Christ's Kingdom, one wants to share it with others. You will too. It is good news!—Acts 5:41, 42.
Doing this is an important way of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. In the Bible, Jesus is called "the faithful and true witness." When on earth he preached, saying: "The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near," and he sent out his disciples to do the same. (Revelation 3:14; Matthew 4:17; 10:7) Later, Jesus commanded his followers: "Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them." He also foretold that before the end, "this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations."—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
There are many ways of declaring this good news. Conversation with friends and acquaintances often opens the way to do so. Some do it by writing letters or by using the telephone. Others mail literature containing material that they think an acquaintance would be especially interested in. Out of a desire to miss no one, Witnesses go from door to door with the message.
The Bible contains this warm invitation: "The spirit and the bride keep on saying: 'Come!' And let anyone hearing say: 'Come!' And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life's water free." (Revelation 22:17) Telling others about the Paradise earth and its blessings is to be done willingly, out of a heart filled with a desire to share this good news.
We are sure that you have other questions about Jehovah's Witnesses and their beliefs. Perhaps some issues are controversial in nature. We would like to answer your questions. Space is limited in this brochure, so we invite you to ask the Witnesses locally. You can do so either at their Kingdom Hall meetings or when they visit you in your home. Or you may send your questions to Watch Tower, using the appropriate address.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Identifying the Wild Beast and Its Mark
DO YOU enjoy solving a mystery? To do so, you look for clues that help you work your way toward the solution. In his inspired Word, God provides the needed clues with regard to the number 666, the name, or mark, of the wild beast of Revelation chapter 13.
In this article, we will look at four main lines of reasoning—vital clues—that will reveal the meaning of the mark of the beast. We will consider (1) how Bible names are sometimes chosen, (2) the identity of the wild beast, (3) what is meant by 666 being "a man's number," and (4) the significance of the number 6 and why it is written in triple digits, namely, 600 plus 60 plus 6, or 666.—Revelation 13:18.
Bible Names—More Than Just Labels
Bible names often have special significance, particularly when given by God. For example, because Abram would become the father of nations, God changed the patriarch's name to Abraham, meaning "Father of a Multitude." (Genesis 17:5) God told Joseph and Mary to call Mary's future child Jesus, which means "Jehovah Is Salvation." (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31) In harmony with that meaningful name, through Jesus' ministry and sacrificial death, Jehovah made possible our salvation.—John 3:16.
Accordingly, the God-given number-name 666 must symbolize what God sees as defining attributes of the beast. Naturally, to understand those traits, we need to identify the beast itself and learn about its activities.
The Beast Exposed
The Bible book of Daniel sheds much light on the meaning of symbolic beasts. Chapter 7 contains a vivid tableau of "four huge beasts"—a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a fearsome beast with big teeth of iron. (Daniel 7:2-7) Daniel tells us that these beasts represent "kings," or political kingdoms, that rule in succession over vast empires.—Daniel 7:17, 23.
Regarding the beast of Revelation 13:1, 2, The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible points out that it "combines in itself the joint characteristics of the four beasts of Daniel's vision . . . Accordingly, this first beast [of Revelation] represents the combined forces of all political rule opposed to God in the world." This observation is affirmed by Revelation 13:7, which says of the beast: "Authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation."*
Why does the Bible use beasts as symbols of human rulership? For at least two reasons. First, because of the beastly record of bloodshed that governments have accrued over the centuries. "War is one of the constants of history," wrote historians Will and Ariel Durant, "and has not diminished with civilization or democracy." How true that "man has dominated man to his injury"! (Ecclesiastes 8:9) The second reason is that "the dragon [Satan] gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority." (Revelation 12:9; 13:2) Accordingly, human rulership is a product of the Devil, thus reflecting his beastly, dragonlike disposition.—John 8:44; Ephesians 6:12.
This does not mean, however, that every human ruler is a direct tool of Satan. Indeed, in one sense, human governments serve as "God's minister," giving structure to human society, without which chaos would rule. And some leaders have protected fundamental human rights, including the right to engage in true worship—something that Satan does not want. (Romans 13:3, 4; Ezr 7:11-27; Acts 13:7) Still, because of the Devil's influence, no human or human institution has ever been able to bring lasting peace and security to the people.# —John 12:31.
"A Human Number"
A third clue to the meaning of 666 lies in its being "a man's number," or as The Amplified Bible puts it, "a human number." This expression could not refer to an individual human, for Satan—not any man—has authority over the beast. (Luke 4:5, 6; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 13:2, 18) Rather, the beast's having "a human number," or mark, suggests that it is a human entity, not spirit or demon, and that it therefore manifests certain human traits. What might they be? The Bible answers, saying: "All [humans] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) The beast's having "a human number," therefore, indicates that governments reflect the fallen human condition, the mark of sin and imperfection.
History bears this out. "Every civilization that has ever existed has ultimately collapsed," said former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. "History is a tale of efforts that failed, of aspirations that weren't realized . . . So, as a historian, one has to live with a sense of the inevitability of tragedy." Kissinger's honest appraisal testifies to this fundamental Bible truth: "To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."—Jeremiah 10:23.
Now that we have identified the beast and discerned how God views it, we are in a position to examine the final part of our puzzle—the number six and why it is written in triple digits—that is, 666, or 600 plus 60 plus 6.
Human rulership has proved to be a failure, well symbolized by the number 666
Six Repeated Three Times—Why?
In the Scriptures, certain numbers have symbolic significance. The number seven, for example, is often used to symbolize that which is complete, or perfect, in God's eyes. For instance, God's creative week comprises seven 'days,' or extended time periods, during which God completely accomplishes his creative purpose regarding the earth. (Genesis 1:3–2:3) God's "sayings" are like silver that has been "clarified seven times," thus perfectly refined. (Psalm 12:6; Proverbs 30:5, 6) The leper Naaman was told to bathe seven times in the Jordan River, after which he was completely healed.—2 Kings 5:10, 14.
Six is one short of seven. Would it not be a fitting symbol of something imperfect, or defective, in God's eyes? Yes, indeed! (1 Chronicles 20:6, 7) Moreover, six repeated three times, as 666, powerfully stresses that imperfection. That this is the correct view is supported by the fact that 666 is "a human number," as we have considered. Thus, the beast's record, its "human number," and the number 666 itself all point to one unmistakable conclusion—gross shortcoming and failure in the eyes of Jehovah.
The portrayal of the beast's deficiencies calls to mind what was said about King Belshazzar of ancient Babylon. Through Daniel, Jehovah said to that ruler: "You have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient." That very night Belshazzar was killed, and the mighty Babylonian Empire fell. (Daniel 5:27, 30) Likewise, God's judgment of the political beast and of those with its mark spells the end of that entity and its supporters. In this instance, however, God will eradicate not just one political system but every vestige of human rule. (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 19:19, 20) How important, therefore, that we avoid having the deadly mark of the beast!
The Mark Identified
Immediately after disclosing the number 666, Revelation mentions 144,000 followers of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, who have his name and the name of his Father, Jehovah, written on their foreheads. These names identify the bearers as belonging to Jehovah and to his Son, about whom they proudly bear witness. Likewise, those having the mark of the beast proclaim their servitude to the beast. Thus, the mark, whether on the right hand or on the forehead, figuratively speaking, is a symbol that identifies its bearer as one who gives worshipful support to the beastlike political systems of the world. Those having the mark give to "Caesar" that which rightly belongs to God. (Luke 20:25; Revelation 13:4, 8; 14:1) How? By giving worshipful honor to the political state, its symbols, and its military might, to which they look for hope and salvation. Any worship that they render the true God is merely lip service.
In contrast, the Bible urges us: "Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish." (Psalm 146:3, 4) Those who heed that wise counsel are not disillusioned when governments fail to deliver on their promises or when charismatic leaders fall from grace.—Proverbs 1:33.
This does not mean that true Christians sit back and do nothing about mankind's plight. On the contrary, they actively proclaim the one government that will solve mankind's problems—God's Kingdom, which they represent.—Matthew 24:14.
Jesus Christ will bring perfect rulership to the earth
God's Kingdom—Mankind's Only Hope
When on earth, Jesus made God's Kingdom the main theme of his preaching. (Luke 4:43) In his model prayer, sometimes called the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught his followers to pray for that Kingdom to come and for God's will to be done here on earth. (Matthew 6:9, 10) The Kingdom is a government that will rule over the entire earth, not from some earthly capital, but from heaven. Hence, Jesus called it "the kingdom of the heavens."—Matthew 11:12.
Who is better suited to be King of that Kingdom than Jesus Christ, the one who died for his future subjects? (Isaiah 9:6, 7; John 3:16) Soon this perfect Ruler, now a mighty spirit person, will hurl the beast, its kings, and its armies into "the fiery lake that burns with sulphur," a symbol of complete destruction. But that is not all. Jesus will also get rid of Satan, something that no human could ever do.—Revelation 11:15; 19:16, 19-21; 20:2, 10.
God's Kingdom will bring peace to all its obedient subjects. (Psalm 37:11, 29; 46:8, 9) Even sorrow, pain, and death will be no more. What a glorious prospect for those who remain free of the mark of the beast!—Revelation 21:3, 4.
* For an in-depth discussion of these verses, see chapter 28 of the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!, published by Jehovah's Witnesses.
# While recognizing that human rulership is often beastlike, true Christians subject themselves to the governmental "superior authorities," as the Bible directs. (Romans 13:1) When such authorities command them to act contrary to God's law, however, they "obey God as ruler rather than men."—Acts 5:29.
Clues to the Meaning of 666
Bible names often say something about the bearer's traits or life, as in the case of Abraham, Jesus, and many others. Likewise, the beast's number-name encodes its characteristics.
In the Bible book of Daniel, the various beasts represent successive human kingdoms, or empires. The composite beast of Revelation 13:1, 2 symbolizes the worldwide political system, empowered and controlled by Satan.
The beast's having "a man's number," or "a human number," indicates that it is a human entity, not a demon. Hence, it reflects human failings resulting from sin and imperfection.
In God's eyes, the number six, being short of the Biblically complete, or perfect, seven, points to imperfection. The mark 666 emphasizes that deficiency by repeating the number three times.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
The end is coming soon. Will you be ready for it? Are you traveling the right road? What will become of those who heard the Truth but did not listen ? Will your pastor or minister save you ?
I feel in my heart and from reading the Bible that i have the truth and we are on the right road. We read and study our Bible on a daily basis. We are also trained to be ministers of the Truth. Its not just a Sunday get together for us, It a life long study of Gods word.
We are even urged to act as Christians every moment of the day. All the others i studied with was nothing like we teach. Some twist the scriptures to be more appealing to people. We are more like a bitter herb and we dont condone misconduct.
But most religions allow gays to worship in their church even condone this misconduct. We do not in anyway condone such behaviors. Fornication is allowed in most churches to. Why are these behaviors allowed in your churches when the Bible teaches that this is not acceptable at all?
We dont allow these things to go on in our place of worship. When someone is found committing a gross sin They are counseled and sometimes disfellowshiped. Do you follow the same guidelines in your place of worship? Do you celebrate pagan holidays? Get your Bibles out and instead of just reading it STUDY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, August 1, 2011
Are Jehovah's Witnesses a cult?
Many think so. But that's not the case.
Its funny all the sites that proclaim we are a cult and false prophets. Ive examined many religions only to find that they were as false as they claim we are. A cult has one leader and uses brainwashing technices on their followers. Most cults are very small in numbers we have over 6 million followers of Jehovah, not an earthly leader. As far as i can see we only abide by Bible teachings. We dont celebrate the heathen customs that most Christians do. You call us a cult because you need to hear its ok to sin go to church on Sunday and everything is cool. I dont remember Jesus ever saying that was the case. Matter of fact He said to repent and sin no more. You say we dont believe in Jesus Thats far from the truth. You people lay judgement on us yet The Bible says Judge not lest you be judged.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Its amazing that the Bible tells us not to speak of our good deeds. Yet these so called Christians go around and shout out how they saved this one and that one, but you know what ? We dont save anyone GOD DOES!!!!! Only God can save you and in your best interest walk away from those who boast their deeds in front of an audience. Work the will of God and remain silent of your deeds.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
"Everywhere the New Testament sees a great conflict between the forces of God and of good, on the one hand, and those of evil led by Satan, on the other. This is not the conception of one writer or another, but is common ground. . . . The witness of the New Testament then is clear. Satan is a malignant reality, always hostile to God and to God's people."—"The New Bible Dictionary."
WHY, then, do many who profess Christianity—and who claim to believe the Bible—reject the idea that a real Devil exists? Because, in truth, they do not accept the Bible as God's Word. (Jeremiah 8:9) Bible writers, they say, reflected the philosophies of the nations around them and did not accurately convey the truth from God. Catholic theologian Hans Küng, for example, writes: "Mythological ideas of Satan with legions of devils . . . penetrated from Babylonian mythology into early Judaism and from there into the New Testament."—On Being a Christian.
But the Bible is not simply the word of men; it truly is the inspired Word of God. We are wise, therefore, to take seriously what it says about the Devil.—2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:20, 21.
What Did Jesus Think?
Jesus knew that
the Devil was a real person
Jesus Christ believed that the Devil was real. Jesus was not tempted by some evil inside himself. He was attacked by a real person whom he later called "the ruler of the world." (John 14:30; Matthew 4:1-11) He also believed that other spirit creatures supported Satan in his wicked schemes. He cured "demon-possessed" people. (Matthew 12:22-28) Even the atheistic publication A Rationalist Encyclopædia notes the significance of this when it says: "It has always been a rock of offence to theologians how the Jesus of the Gospels accepted the belief in devils." When Jesus spoke about the Devil and his demons, he was not simply repeating superstitions carried over from Babylonian mythology. He knew that they really existed.
We learn a lot about the Devil when we consider Jesus' words to religious teachers of his day: "You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie."—John 8:44.
According to this, the Devil, a name meaning "slanderer," was "a liar and the father of the lie." He was the first creature to lie about God, and he did so back in the garden of Eden. Jehovah had said that our original parents would "positively die" if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. Through the mouth of a serpent, Satan said that those words were not true. (Genesis 2:17; 3:4) Appropriately, he is called "the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan."—Revelation 12:9.
The Devil lied about the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. The prohibition on eating from that tree, he argued, was unjustified; it was an abuse of power. Adam and Eve, he said, could "be like God" in determining for themselves what was good and what was bad. Satan implied that as free moral agents, they should have complete self-determination. (Genesis 3:1-5) This attack on the rightness of God's way of ruling raised crucial issues. So Jehovah has allowed time for these issues to be settled. This means that Satan has been allowed to continue living for a while. His limited time is now rapidly running out. (Revelation 12:12) Still, he continues to alienate mankind from God by lies and deceit, using people like the scribes and the Pharisees of Jesus' day to propagate his teachings.—Matthew 23:13, 15.
Jesus also said that the Devil was "a manslayer when he began" and that "he did not stand fast in the truth." This does not mean that Jehovah created the Devil as "a manslayer." He was not created to be some kind of monster in charge of a place of fire and torment for any who opposed God. The "hell" of the Bible is not Satan's abode. It is simply the common grave of mankind.—Acts 2:25-27; Revelation 20:13, 14.
The Devil was originally "in the truth." He was once part of Jehovah's heavenly family as a perfect spirit son of God. But he did not "stand fast in the truth." He preferred his own ways and his own lying principles. "He began," not when he was created as an angelic son of God, but when he willfully rebelled against Jehovah and lied to Adam and Eve. The Devil is like those people who rebelled against Jehovah in the time of Moses. Of them we read: "They have acted ruinously on their own part; they are not his children, the defect is their own." (Deuteronomy 32:5) The same could be said of Satan. He became "a manslayer" when he rebelled and became responsible for the death of Adam and Eve and, in fact, the whole human family.—Romans 5:12.
Other angels joined Satan in his rebellion. (Luke 11:14, 15) These angels "forsook their own proper dwelling place" and materialized human bodies in order to enjoy sexual relationships with "the daughters of men" in Noah's day. (Jude 6; Genesis 6:1-4; 1 Peter 3:19, 20) "A third of the stars of heaven," or a minority of spirit creatures, have taken this course.—Revelation 12:4.
The highly symbolic book of Revelation depicts the Devil as "a great fiery-colored dragon." (Revelation 12:3) Why? Not because he literally has a grotesque, ugly body. We do not know, in fact, what kind of body spirit creatures have, but likely Satan does not differ from other angelic spirit creatures in that respect. However, "a great fiery-colored dragon" is a fitting description of Satan's ravenous, frightful, powerful, and destructive spirit.
Satan and the demons are now severely restricted. They can no longer materialize as they apparently once could. Shortly after the establishment of God's Kingdom in the hands of Christ in 1914, they were cast down to the vicinity of the earth.—Revelation 12:7-9.
The Devil Is a Formidable Foe
Even so, the Devil remains a formidable foe. He "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone." (1 Peter 5:8) He is no vague principle of evil residing in our imperfect flesh. True, we do have a daily struggle against our own sinful inclinations. (Romans 7:18-20) But the real struggle is "against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places."—Ephesians 6:12.
"The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one"
How widespread is the Devil's influence? "The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one," says the apostle John. (1 John 5:19) Of course, we do not want to become obsessed with the Devil or allow superstitious fear of him to paralyze us. We are wise, though, to stay alert to his efforts to blind us to the truth and to break our integrity to God.—Job 2:3-5; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4.
The Devil does not always use brutal means to attack those who want to do God's will. At times, he makes himself seem like "an angel of light." The apostle Paul warned Christians of this danger when he wrote: "I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ."—2 Corinthians 11:3, 14.
We therefore need to 'keep our senses, be watchful, and take our stand against him, solid in the faith.' (1 Peter 5:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 2:11) Avoid playing into Satan's hands by dabbling in anything that is connected with the occult. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Be a good student of God's Word, remembering that Jesus Christ repeatedly referred to God's Word when he was tempted by the Devil. (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) Pray for God's spirit. Its fruitage can help you to avoid the works of the flesh, which Satan promotes so effectively. (Galatians 5:16-24) Also, pray earnestly to Jehovah when you feel under pressure in some way from the Devil and his demons.—Philippians 4:6, 7.
There is no need to be in terror of the Devil. Jehovah promises real protection against anything Satan can do. (Psalm 91:1-4; Proverbs 18:10; James 4:7, 8) "Go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength," says the apostle Paul. Then you will "be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil."—Ephesians 6:10, 11.
Take your stand against the Devil by studying God's Word and praying regularly
Take Your Stand for True Worship
What does the Bible teach about the use of images?
What view do Christians take of religious holidays?
How can you explain your beliefs to others without offending them?
SUPPOSE you found out that your whole neighborhood has been contaminated. Someone has secretly been dumping poisonous waste in the area, and now the situation is life threatening. What would you do? No doubt, you would move away if you could. But after doing that, you would still face this serious question, ‘Have I been poisoned?’
2 A similar situation arises with regard to false religion. The Bible teaches that such worship is contaminated with unclean teachings and practices. (2 Corinthians 6:17) That is why it is important for you to get out of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. (Revelation 18:2, 4) Have you done this? If so, you are to be commended. But more is involved than just separating yourself or resigning from a false religion. Afterward, you must ask yourself, ‘Do any traces of false worship remain in me?’ Consider some examples.
IMAGES AND ANCESTOR WORSHIP
3 Some have had images or shrines in their home for years. Is that true of you? If so, you might feel that it is strange or wrong to pray to God without such a visible aid. You may even feel attached to some of these items. But God is the one who says how he should be worshiped, and the Bible teaches that he does not want us to use images. (Exodus 20:4, 5; Psalm 115:4-8; Isaiah 42:8; 1 John 5:21) So you can take a stand for true worship by destroying any items you own that are connected with false worship. By all means, come to view them as Jehovah does—as something “detestable.”—Deuteronomy 27:15.
4 Ancestor worship also is common in many false religions. Before learning Bible truth, some believed that the dead are conscious in an invisible realm and that they can help or harm the living. Perhaps you used to go to great lengths to appease your dead ancestors. But as you learned in Chapter 6 of this book, the dead have no conscious existence anywhere. Thus, attempts to communicate with them are of no use. Any messages that seem to come from a dead loved one really originate with the demons. Therefore, Jehovah forbade the Israelites to try to talk with the dead or to participate in any other form of spiritism.—Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
5 If the use of images or the practice of ancestor worship was part of your former way of worship, what can you do? Read and ponder over Bible passages that show you how God views these things. Pray to Jehovah daily about your desire to take a stand for true worship, and ask him to help you to think as he does.—Isaiah 55:9.
CHRISTMAS—NOT CELEBRATED BY EARLY CHRISTIANS
6 A person’s worship could be contaminated by false religion as it relates to popular holidays. Consider Christmas, for example. Christmas supposedly commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, and nearly every religion that claims to be Christian celebrates it. Yet, there is no evidence that the first-century disciples of Jesus observed such a holiday. The book Sacred Origins of Profound Things states: “For two centuries after Christ’s birth, no one knew, and few people cared, exactly when he was born.”
7 Even if Jesus’ disciples had known the exact date of his birth, they would not have celebrated it. Why? Because, as The World Book Encyclopedia says, the early Christians “considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.” The only birthday observances mentioned in the Bible are those of two rulers who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20; Mark 6:21) Birthday celebrations were also held in honor of pagan deities. For example, on May 24 the Romans celebrated the birthday of the goddess Diana. On the following day, they observed the birthday of their sun-god, Apollo. Hence, birthday celebrations were associated with paganism, not with Christianity.
8 There is another reason why first-century Christians would not have celebrated Jesus’ birthday. His disciples likely knew that birthday celebrations were connected with superstition. For instance, many Greeks and Romans of ancient times believed that a spirit attended the birth of each human and protected that one throughout life. “This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born,” says the book The Lore of Birthdays. Jehovah certainly would not be pleased with any observance that would link Jesus with superstition. (Isaiah 65:11, 12) So how did Christmas come to be celebrated by many people?
THE ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS
9 It was not until several hundred years after Jesus lived on the earth that people began to commemorate his birth on December 25. But that was not the date of Jesus’ birth, for it evidently took place in October.* So why was December 25 chosen? Some who later claimed to be Christian likely “wished the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the ‘birthday of the unconquered sun.’” (The New Encyclopædia Britannica) In winter, when the sun seemed weakest, pagans held ceremonies to get this source of warmth and light to come back from its distant travels. December 25 was thought to be the day that the sun began its return. In an effort to convert pagans, religious leaders adopted this festival and tried to make it seem “Christian.”#
10 The pagan roots of Christmas have long been recognized. Because of its unscriptural origin, Christmas was banned in England and in some of the American colonies during the 17th century. Anyone who even stayed home from work on Christmas day had to pay a penalty. Soon, though, the old customs were back, and some new ones were added. Christmas once again became a big holiday, and that is what it still is in many lands. Because of the connections that Christmas has with false religion, however, those who want to please God do not celebrate it or any other holiday that has its roots in pagan worship.%
DO ORIGINS REALLY MATTER?
Would you eat a piece of candy picked up from the gutter?
11 Some agree that such holidays as Christmas have pagan origins but still feel that it is not wrong to celebrate them. After all, most people are not thinking about false worship when they observe holidays. These occasions also give families opportunities to draw close together. Is this how you feel? If so, likely it is love of family, not love of false religion, that makes taking a stand for true worship seem difficult. Be assured that Jehovah, the one who originated the family, wants you to have a good relationship with your relatives. (Ephesians 3:14, 15) But you can strengthen such bonds in ways that God approves. Regarding the matter that should be our chief concern, the apostle Paul wrote: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.”—Ephesians 5:10.
12 Maybe you feel that the origins of holidays have little to do with how they are celebrated today. Do origins really matter? Yes! To illustrate: Suppose you saw a piece of candy lying in the gutter. Would you pick up that candy and eat it? Of course not! That candy is unclean. Like that candy, holidays may seem sweet, but they have been picked up from unclean places. To take a stand for true worship, we need to have a viewpoint like that of the prophet Isaiah, who told true worshipers: “Touch nothing unclean.”—Isaiah 52:11.
DISCERNMENT IN DEALING WITH OTHERS
13 Challenges may arise when you choose not to participate in holidays. For example, fellow employees may wonder why you do not engage in certain holiday activities where you work. What if you are offered a Christmas gift? Would it be wrong to accept it? What if your marriage mate does not share your beliefs? How can you make sure that your children do not feel deprived because of not celebrating holidays?
14 Good judgment is needed to discern how to handle each situation. If a holiday greeting is casually extended, you could simply thank the well-wisher. But suppose you are dealing with someone you see or work with regularly. In that case, you might choose to say more. In all cases, be tactful. The Bible advises: “Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.” (Colossians 4:6) Be careful not to show disrespect for others. Instead, tactfully explain your position. Make clear that you are not against gift-giving and gatherings but prefer to participate in these activities at a different time.
15 What if someone wants to give you a gift? Much depends upon the circumstances. The giver might say: “I know that you do not celebrate the holiday. Still, I want you to have this.” You may decide that accepting the gift under those circumstances is not the same as taking part in the holiday. Of course, if the giver is not familiar with your beliefs, you could mention that you do not observe the holiday. This would help to explain why you accept a gift but do not give one on that occasion. On the other hand, it would be wise not to accept a gift if it is given with the clear intention of showing that you do not stick to your beliefs or that you would compromise for the sake of material gain.
WHAT ABOUT FAMILY MEMBERS?
16 What if family members do not share your beliefs? Again, be tactful. There is no need to make an issue of every custom or celebration that your relatives choose to observe. Instead, respect their right to their views, just as you want them to respect your right to yours. (Matthew 7:12) Avoid any actions that would make you a participant in the holiday. Still, be reasonable when it comes to matters that do not amount to actual celebration. Of course, you should always act in a way that will leave you with a good conscience.—1 Timothy 1:18, 19
17 What can you do so that your children do not feel deprived because of not celebrating unscriptural holidays? Much depends on what you do at other times of the year. Some parents set aside times to give presents to their children. One of the best gifts you can give your children is your time and loving attention.
PRACTICE TRUE WORSHIP
Practicing true worship brings real happiness
18 To please God, you must reject false worship and take a stand for true worship. What does this include? The Bible states: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Christian meetings are happy occasions for you to worship God in the way that he approves. (Psalm 22:22; 122:1) At such meetings, there is “an interchange of encouragement” among faithful Christians.—Romans 1:12.
19 Another way that you can take a stand for true worship is to speak to others about the things you have learned from studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many people truly are “sighing and groaning” over the wickedness that is taking place in the world today. (Ezekiel 9:4) Perhaps you know some people who feel that way. Why not speak to them about your Bible-based hope for the future? As you associate with true Christians and speak to others about the marvelous Bible truths you have learned, you will find that any desire for the customs of false worship that may have remained in your heart will gradually disappear. Be assured that you will be very happy and will receive many blessings if you take your stand for true worship.—Malachi 3:10.
* See the Appendix.
# The Saturnalia also played a part in the choice of December 25. This festival honoring the Roman god of agriculture took place on December 17-24. Feasting, merrymaking, and gift-giving took place during the Saturnalia.
% For a discussion of how true Christians view other popular holidays, see the Appendix.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
The Power of Prayer
The sun is setting over the city of Nahor in the Middle East. A Syrian man named Eliezer arrives with a train of ten camels at a well outside the city. Though no doubt tired and thirsty, Eliezer is more concerned about the needs of others. He has come from a foreign land to find a wife for the son of his master. Moreover, he must find this wife among his master's relatives. How will he accomplish this difficult task?
ELIEZER believes in the power of prayer. With remarkable, childlike faith, he makes this humble request: "Jehovah the God of my master Abraham, cause it to happen, please, before me this day and perform loving-kindness with my master Abraham. Here I am stationed at a fountain of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. What must occur is that the young woman to whom I shall say, 'Let your water jar down, please, that I may take a drink,' and who will indeed say, 'Take a drink, and I shall also water your camels,' this is the one you must assign to your servant, to Isaac; and by this let me know that you have performed loyal love with my master."—Genesis 24:12-14.
Eliezer's confidence in the power of prayer is not in vain. Why, the very first woman who comes to the well happens to be the granddaughter of Abraham's brother! Her name is Rebekah, and she is single, morally chaste, and beautiful. Remarkably, she not only gives Eliezer a drink but kindly offers to quench the thirst of all his camels. Later, after a family consultation, Rebekah willingly agrees to go back with Eliezer to a distant land to become the wife of Abraham's son Isaac. What a dramatic and clear answer to Eliezer's prayer back at a time when God occasionally intervened miraculously in events!
We can learn much from Eliezer's prayer. It showed his outstanding faith, humility, and unselfish concern for the needs of others. Eliezer's prayer also showed his submission to Jehovah's way of dealing with mankind. No doubt he was aware of God's special attachment to Abraham as well as His promise that future blessings would come to all mankind through Abraham. (Genesis 12:3) Thus, Eliezer started his prayer with the words: "Jehovah the God of my master Abraham."
Jesus Christ was the descendant of Abraham who would be the means for blessing all obedient mankind. (Genesis 22:18) If we want our prayers to be answered today, we need to show humble recognition of God's way of dealing with mankind through his Son. Jesus Christ said: "If you remain in union with me and my sayings remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will take place for you."—John 15:7.
A follower of Christ who experienced the truthfulness of these words of Jesus was the apostle Paul. His belief in the power of prayer was certainly not in vain. He encouraged fellow Christians to take all their anxieties to God in prayer and testified: "For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me." (Philippians 4:6, 7, 13) Does this mean that all of Paul's prayerful requests to God were granted? Let us see.
Not All Requests Are Granted
In his unselfish ministry, Paul suffered from what he described as "a thorn in the flesh." (2 Corinthians 12:7) This could have been the mental and emotional distress caused by opposers and "false brothers." (2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4) Or it could have been the physical discomfort of a chronic eye affliction. (Galatians 4:15) Whatever the case, this "thorn in the flesh" had a weakening effect on Paul. "I three times entreated the Lord that it might depart from me," he wrote. However, Paul's request was not granted. It was explained to Paul that the spiritual benefits he had already received from God, such as power to endure trials, were sufficient. Furthermore, God said: "My power is being made perfect in weakness."—2 Corinthians 12:8, 9.
What do we learn from the examples of Eliezer and Paul? Jehovah God indeed listens to the prayers of those who humbly seek to serve him. But this does not mean that he always grants their requests because God has a long-range view of matters. He knows better than we do what is in our best interests. More important, he always acts in harmony with his stated purpose as recorded in the Bible.
A Time for Spiritual Healing
God promises to heal mankind of all physical, mental, and emotional maladies during the Thousand Year Reign of his Son over the earth. (Revelation 20:1-3; 21:3-5) Sincere Christians eagerly await this promised future, with full faith in God's power to make it a reality. While not expecting such miraculous healing now, they pray to God for his comfort and strength to cope with trials. (Psalm 55:22) When they fall sick, they may also pray for God's guidance in obtaining the best medical treatment within their economic means.
Some religions encourage the sick to pray to be healed now, pointing to the miraculous cures that Jesus and his apostles performed. But such miracles were done for a special purpose. They served to prove that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah and to show that God's favor had been transferred from the Jewish nation to the young Christian congregation. Back then, miraculous gifts were needed to strengthen the faith of the newly established Christian congregation. When the infant congregation got on its feet, as it were, and became mature, the miraculous gifts were "done away with."—1 Corinthians 13:8, 11.
At this crucial time, Jehovah God is directing his worshipers in the more important work of spiritual healing. While they yet have time, people desperately need to respond to this appeal: "Search for Jehovah, you people, while he may be found. Call to him while he proves to be near. Let the wicked man leave his way, and the harmful man his thoughts; and let him return to Jehovah, who will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will forgive in a large way."—Isaiah 55:6, 7.
This spiritual healing of repentant sinners is being accomplished through the preaching of the good news of God's Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) By empowering his servants to carry out this lifesaving work, Jehovah God is helping millions of people from all nations to repent of their sins and come into a favorable relationship with him before the end of this wicked system. All who sincerely pray for such spiritual healing and all who pray for help to perform this healing work are indeed having their prayers answered.